Monday, January 29, 2007

the great yokai war

The Great Yokai War (Takashi Miike, 2005) - 6/10

This Miike film is panned as family-friendly. To some extent, yes. If you've seen other Miike films, you'd know that he doesn't shy away from sexual innuendo. Even this family-friendly film contains a little trace of that, but nothing to the extent of his other films. Plus, some dark scenes and characters that may scare the little kiddies.

A young boy, Tadashi (Ryuunosuke Kamiki) is chosen to keep the peace from evil. Through his quest, he meets different and strange spirits (Yokai). Chiaki Kuriyama, from Battle Royale and Kill Bill fame, plays one of the villains. These spirits seem to be taken from Japanese folk tales and reminiscent to characters in Miyazaki's Spirited Away.

Realize the budget of this film. Mixed with CGI effects and some stop-motion, don't expect or compare it to the proportions of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. That said, with the fantasy aspect of this film and the amount of great characters, this film lacks energy and excitement. A rather dull film with wasted potential. A film such as Cutie Honey lacked the glossy effects and style, but at least it provided plenty of energy and characters with a ton of charisma to make a good film in its own unique way.

Monday, January 22, 2007

samaritan girl

I meant to post this days ago, but got lazy.

Samaritan Girl (Ki-duk Kim, 2004) - 10/10

*Contains Spoilers*

Just when I thought Kim Ki-duk couldn't create an almost masterful gem like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring, I may have witnessed his best work so far in Samaritan Girl.

Samaritan Girl conveys two teenage girls, Jae-yeong (Yeo-reum Han) and Yeo-jin (Ji-min Kwak) who resort to prostitution to pay for their trip to Europe. While Jae-yeong sleeps with clients, Yeo-jin sets up clients and manages their income. During a police raid, Jae-yeoung forces herself out a window and plunges. Jae-yeong's death in a hospital bed, to the sorrow of Yeo-jin, has Yeo-jin tracking down previous clients. Yeo-jin sleeps with them in order to return the money they've earned, as a sort of retribution.

Yeo-jin's father witnesses her daughter one day with a client. In shock and disbelief, he tracks them down as a form of revenge -- without the knowledge of Yeo-jin -- eventually beating one to death. In the final moments of the film, we see a closer connection between Yeo-jin and her father. Yeo-jin's father realizing she knows her mistakes, and Yeo-jin realizing her father may know of the events.

Like all the other two Kim Ki-duk films I've seen (Spring, Summer...... and 3-Iron), Samaritan Girl works in a symbolic approach surrounding the quite unlikely realistic events. This is illustrated in the closing segments when Yeo-jin separates from her father -- the father is taken away for his crime -- and driven to a path of new life on her own.

Monday, January 8, 2007


Versus (Ryuhei Kitamura, 2000) - 7/10

After reading a book on zombies, Versus provided a gorefest of the living dead. Blended in with gunplay and samurai swordplay, the movie splurged all kinds of blood and guts. Violence so over-the-top, it becomes laughable. Forget how thin and messy the story becomes (about good vs. evil), but be entertained for the film's stylish, choreographed action sequences and main directing. However bland the main character becomes, there are more extravagant or interesting characters that provide the energy and humour of this film. The use of rock/metal/techno as a backdrop is a testament to how much fun you'll experience watching this film.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

the iron man audition

I got around to viewing Tetsuo: the Iron Man and Audition.

Tetsuo: the Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989) - 7/10

The back of the DVD cover states, "...a cinematic experience like you've never seen." I really don't know what to make from this film. Or I've never experienced Tsukamoto before, or any Lynch films which I read this movie is in the realm of. Which means I need to experience this movie again. As it stands, I'll give a rating of 7 for its absurd and unique film making style and narrative. Black and white visuals mixed with fast cuts and editing, and hypnotic imagery and sound.

Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999) - 7.5/10

With the exception of a severed head and foot using a wire, the grotesque nature of this film wasn't bad at all. Nothing too disturbing. The first half of the film moves a bit slow. The director Takashi Miike in his commentary even says he did that deliberately. We see the build up of the relationship between Aoyama (a middle-aged man who seeks to find another woman to marry a few years after the death of his wife) and Asami (a young woman who auditions for a fake movie audition set up by Aoyama). Could Asami be perfect and innocent as Aoyama wants to believe?
The second half of the film changes in atmosphere as we see the other side of Asami, a darker side. It brings a creepy feeling, not in the sense of monsters, ghosts or demons jumping out onto the screen.